Sharpton Announces Plans For Bell Verdict Protests
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The Reverend Al Sharpton and supporters of police shooting victim Sean Bell said Saturday that they plan to carry out acts of civil disobedience this Wednesday to protest the acquittals of the three detectives charged in Bell's death.
Sharpton says protestors will gather at six locations for a citywide pray-in.
He was joined for the announcement Saturday at the National Action Network by Bell's fiancŽe Nicole Paultre-Bell and Bell's friend Trent Benefield who was shot and wounded the same night Bell was killed. The group joined in prayer for those willing to get arrested in the name of protest.
The goal of the protests is to tie up traffic and force police to make arrests. Sharpton says the protests will continue on a weekly basis, leading up to what he hopes will be a citywide shutdown.
"If you're not going to lock up the guilty in this town, then I guess you're going to have to lock up the innocent. Since you won't lock up the cops, then lock up those that are fighting for justice," said Sharpton.
"On Wednesday I will be there, and everyone who is willing to support us, please come out and we're going to do this peacefully, like we always have," said Paultre-Bell.
"I am willing to make a sacrifice," said New York NAACP president Hazel Dukes. "I'm tired of being sick and tired."
Sharpton says the fight for justice is far from over.
"What some in the press are trying to do is bury the story and act like it's over," said Sharpton. "It ain't over because we cannot live with a verdict that says police are justified with no crime, no probably cause, shooting three unarmed innocent men and walking away like our lives don't mean anything."
Bell was shot on November 25, 2006 by undercover police detectives who opened fire on him and his two friends after they say they heard one of them mention a gun. The three detectives were acquitted on all charges on April 25th.
The locations for Wednesday's gatherings are as follows:
Third Avenue at 125th Street;
Park Avenue at 34th Street;
Third Avenue at 60th Street;
Varick and Houston Streets;
One Police Plaza;
415 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.
"There will be small groups in each place and they will meet there at the same time and at the same time we are going to have a city-wide pray-in," said Sharpton. "Where we going those that know won't say and those that say don't know."
Protestors held a rally outside the 103rd Precinct in Queens Friday, where the three acquitted detectives worked.
"The cops have to realize that they can't just go around shooting people and asking questions afterwards," said one protester. "They have to realize that we are human beings and they have to treat us like human beings."
"We're out here today because a week ago today, a judge let go the police who murdered Sean Bell in cold blood," added another. "They sent a message last Friday that the lives of black and brown youth in this country are worth nothing, and we're out here today to say that we're drawing the line."
There was a heavy police presence at the rally, including officers from the anti-riot unit, but no arrests were made.
In an exclusive interview Friday, Bell’s parents described the moments after they found out their son had been killed.
Speaking with NY1’s Dominic Carter on Friday's edition of Inside City Hall, Valerie and William Bell said they found their son handcuffed on a gurney in Jamaica Hospital after he died.
They also said they never received any official information in the hours after the shooting.
Valerie Bell: Police officers didn't call me, the hospital didn't call me. My son's sister-in-law called me.
Carter: And when you folks arrived at the hospital, what happened?
Valerie Bell: They told us what happened, and I just can't believe that they wouldn't let us see him.
William Bell: For six hours we had to wait.
Valerie Bell: A doctor did not come to me, I just heard all the news from friends and family in the room we were waiting in.
Bell's father described seeing his son's body.
William Bell: To be handcuffed, here's a dead body handcuffed on the gurney.
Carter: He was still handcuffed when you -
William Bell: Yes he was, handcuffed on the gurney.
Carter: Deceased at the time?
William Bell: Yes, deceased at the time, exactly, exactly. I felt his body and I felt his hands and I felt the chains on his hands.
Bell's mother went on to say she accepts the apology of Detective Michael Cooper, who did so publicly after he was acquitted.
Bell's father said it's too late for an apology.